March 21, 2023

“Vote. Voice. Use Your Feet,” these are the three phrases imparted to me when reading Jane Fonda’s newest book, “What Can I Do? My Path From Climate Despair to Action.” 

To be completely honest, I bought this book more out of my love for Jane Fonda than a desire to learn about climate change. However, after reading it I have not only an even deeper admiration for Jane Fonda but a fire in me to fight climate change. 

The book, which came out Sept. 8, focuses on the different aspects of climate change and presents a call to action. Throughout the 16 chapters, Fonda outlines The Green New Deal, environmental justice and the relationships between climate change and the oceans, women, the military, water, plastics, human rights, health, fossil fuel and the forests. 

Fonda stops at nothing to educate readers on the importance of taking action to mitigate climate change. The idea for the book came from Fonda partnering with Greenpeace to start a 14-week activism campaign called Fire Drill Fridays. 

Held in Washington D.C., Fire Drill Fridays were composed of three parts. A Thursday night teach-in that educated watchers via Instagram live on a specific aspect of climate change that would be discussed the following day. The second component was Fire Drill Fridays itself, which was held at the United Methodist building near the Capitol. 

The events featured many climate change experts and celebrity activists throughout the 14 weeks. The final component was the march from the United Methodist building to the Capitol itself. 

I was inspired by this quote found in chapter seven: “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

Many different emotions came over me as I read further into the book. I felt anger toward generations before us that neglected these issues, fear for what the future will hold and shock as I learned some of the statistics surrounding climate change. 

Fonda emphasizes that this is not only a climate crisis but a human rights crisis. A startling statistic reported in the book says, “The World Health Organization estimates that every day 93 percent of the world’s children under the age of fifteen breathe air so polluted that it puts their health and development at risk.” This statistic does not include the heavy smoke we are all experiencing from fires roaring across the West Coast. 

Reading about the different aspects of climate change allowed me to better understand the issues at hand. Fonda could have not chosen a better time for the release of the book, especially as states across the country are faced with bizarre weather events that can only be explained by climate change. 

Fourteen of the 16 chapters dive into what each Fire Drill Friday was like. The book is set up to educate and provide resources for Fonda’s calls to action at the end of each chapter titled, “What Can I Do?”

Fonda quotes the UN secretary-general saying, “Climate change is no longer a long-term problem. We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us.”

I encourage everyone to read this book, whether interested in climate change or not. It is not only eye opening but also provides great resources on how to start the climate change conversation in your own city and circle of people. 

“There is a saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together,” Fonda writes in Chapter 1. “The more I was learning about the climate crisis, the more I knew that building a community was how we would grow the army that was needed to change the way this country does business — literally, and for the long haul.”

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